Redeeming My Airline Miles (aka $22 to Hawaii)
I’m not what you would call a frequent flyer–I take around 3 trips per year. However, in 2011, I decided to get in on the airline miles action with a Delta SkyMiles American Express card.
Well..since I’m not exactly jetting across the globe every month, I liked that my miles wouldn’t expire with Delta–I could let them build up.
Living in Wisconsin, I also liked that I had easy connections through Delta’s hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Atlanta. I didn’t even consider going with United or American because that meant connecting through the loathsome Chicago O’Hare – an airport that I’ve never had much luck with.
How I accumulated points
I received 30,000 points when signing up for the American Express card. I started with the Gold card, then upgraded to the Platinum card the following year–which netted me more points.
Although the Platinum card has a higher annual fee, it also gives me a yearly companion ticket for for travel in the 48 contiguous US states, which we’ve gladly used every year.
Then basically I charged anything over $5 to my card–of course, I also paid the card off in full every month–no need to go in to debt.
There was one “big ticket” trip to London (which netted around 7,000 miles), but I also used the card for every other flight (except one on Southwest) in the past four years: New Orleans, New York City, Key West, Los Angeles, Dallas, Bangor, and 4 flights to Fort Wayne (for family stuff).
I also took advantage of (cheap) offers to net quick points (e.g., buying 6 bottles of wines to gain 2,000 points, purchasing gift cards through SkyMiles shopping, etc…). You name it, I did it–as long as I didn’t feel it was costing me extra money.
After four years, I had accumulated 150,000 miles.
This year, Delta devalued their SkyMiles program, which doesn’t help travelers like me who don’t have elite status (and never will). However, Delta has made using the miles you do have easier to redeem–fewer black out dates and more low-level availability.
So, I decided to redeem those miles. Had more than enough to redeem for 2 free round-trip economy class tickets to Hawaii. Only had to pay a total of $22 in taxes for the two tickets. $22 to Hawaii? I’ll take it!